I Like Spam

I gᥙess he’s PERFECT at it!?, laughed Larry.

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Tea and Sympathy

This time of year is when I began a pivotal life journey in 1971. I left my Chicago home for a junior year abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Let me sit back to reminisce over a cup of hot tea with sugar.

My Bubbe Fischer * had passed away a short time before, on 29 Tammuz. It was then almost three weeks later.*

To proceed to my arrival in Israel, I was hosted by residents of the village Kfar Chabad on the first night when I arrived. A distinguished seatmate on my overseas flight invited me to a relative’s home. As interesting as this is, it warrants an entire account on its own.

Before I left Kfar Chabad, a resident gave me a pair of tefillin. I have been putting on tefillin ever since.

On the next afternoon, I reached Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. From there I was supposed to go to the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University where I would be staying.

Virtually everything that I owned was loaded into an unwieldy duffle bag. In my stubbornness, I was determined to walk by following my tourist map. I refused to admit that I needed help finding a bus. Besides this, I was too stubborn to admit that I was barely able to carry the bag. (It would still be some time before I saw anyone wheeling a bag along.)

I remember the salt of sweat in my eyes and how my muscles were growing more and more tired. Shuffle along in the summer sun and rest. Shuffle along and rest. I don’t remember any more of that day.

We began the summer ulpan * the next day. The university placed me in the most advanced level of the ulpan because I had studied enough Hebrew, actually from fourth grade on. All students from abroad would receive instruction in Hebrew to help us begin the academic year.

I recall studying a modern Hebrew poem about teh v’sympatia – “tea and sympathy.” I lost interest in the course since we were learning Hebraicized Greek words that had also found their way into English. What is the Hebrew word for ‘sympathy’?

Our dormitories were surrounded by a lush lawn. We could have been in any university surroundings. The path to the university’s front gate and bus stop was wooded, and it skirted the botanic garden. I regret not having visited the garden, but thirty-two years later I would visit the university’s botanic garden on Mount Scopus.

I attended services on Shabbat – Friday night and Saturday – in the campus synagogue. They called me up to the Torah * on a regular basis. I don’t remember the Shabbat meals except for the light Shabbat third meal. We all sat in the synagogue to eat and sing. Where did we eat on Friday night or on Saturday noon?

My cup of tea has run dry as have my reminisces. I’m looking forward to another cup later on.
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* Bubbe – grandma; Bubbe Fischer was my mother’s mother.
* three weeks later – June/July
* ulpan – study of the Hebrew language
* called me up to the Torah – to say the blessings before and after the weekly Torah reading.

I’ve postponed my bête noire appointments

This month was going to be dedicated to the Palestinian Authority — how they’ve done nothing helpful for their people.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies generally aggravate me (March into April).

On the other hand, pundit Bill Bennett (February) has cut back from being an apologist for President Trump. Listening to him has become less aggravating, sometimes not even aggravating at all.

Coverage by journalists tends to aggravate me. More of that in future months.

U.S. tax forms just aggravated me — the forms, not the tax levy.

So, let me step back to watch the star Sirius.

Let me catch up with Israel’s regional and city planning.

And let me sit back to drink a glass of hot tea with sugar.

Emptying pockets for airport security

I’ve found it hard to travel lightly. I carry change (in a change purse) for donating tsedaka before prayer,* a thumb drive memory stick backup of the essentials for my laptop, a cell phone, a card wallet (what’s in my card wallet?), my regular wallet, a pen, and tissues (perennial allergies).

My house key is in my carry-on backpack (knapsack, rucksack) if you’re wondering.

In another post, I may disclose what’s in my backpack.

My lap top computer doesn’t contain any data – that’s all on my flash memory drive. This drive is like the old briefcase.

Actually, I have two briefcases – my old clunky one with room in it for lunch and a slim, lightweight one with pockets and compartments. Sometimes, my backpack serves as a briefcase, such as in traveling.

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* donating tsedaka before prayer – Prayer is more acceptable after setting aside some money for a poor person.